Spleen Injuries

Spleen injuries can occur on the sporting field from a fall or a direct blow to the abdominal area under the lower left rib cage. Players often complain either of abdominal or shoulder pain (due to a similar nerve supply to both areas). This is an emergency as rapid blood loss can ensue if this injury is not detected and treated early. Rarely, splenic ruptures can occur as a secondary complication of glandular fever. If a splenic injury occurs, a player may be out for several months because there is a risk of re-injury if another direct blow occurs to this organ.

Matthew Lloyd of the Essendon Bombers suffered an injury in the first half of the Preliminary Final against the Sydney Swans in 1996. His club doctor correctly suspected a ruptured spleen after asking him if he had shoulder pain and he was rushed back to hospital that night after initially being discharged. He has said of his injury, “By the time I got back there (hospital) I had two litres of blood in my stomach and if I had’ve gone to bed or fallen asleep on my own that night I probably would have died so that’s how serious it was after that game.”
Matthew Lloyd Ruptured Spleen
Matthew Lloyd of the Essendon Bombers suffered a ruptured spleen in 1996.
(Image sourced from